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No Gay People in Cambodia

STORY: 2006– I’ve had the great privilege to work from age 26 to 70 educating people around the world with the truth on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people’s personal and professional awakenings, challenges, and strengths.

Ray would travel with me when the Investment Banks brought me to their offices in Europe and Asia. This photo was taken in Jaipur, shortly after I spoke in Mumbai.

A couple of years earlier, we were in Cambodia, after I spoke in Singapore. Our well-spoken guide and driver were in the front of the car as we made our way to see temple ruins. From the back seat, I asked, “How are gay people treated in Cambodia?”

“There are no gay people in Cambodia,” our guide replied. “They all live in Thailand. It’s caused by the fertilizing they do of the mango trees. We fertilize once. They fertilize twice.”

“Can this be a teachable moment,” I asked? “Cambodia, percentage-wise, has as many gay people as the United States, and fertilizer has nothing to do with it.” He looked skeptical.

After spending some time educating the young man on LGBTQ issues, I asked, “How would your family react if you were gay?”

“I would have to leave my town,” he said.

To all of my audiences and readers, I have always said that “The horror of growing up gay, is having a secret you don’t understand and are afraid to tell for fear that no one will love you anymore. That’s true in the U.S., Cuba, Russia, China, and Brazil.” And, it’s most certainly true in Cambodia.

The most exciting and tangible progress we have made since I was a terrified young, closeted gay, Irish Catholic youngster in Flint, MI, is the visibility of LGBTQ people of all ages. At least in the Western world, there are plenty of good role models to help you believe you’re not alone.

If any of you know someone who needs help accepting and affirming either themselves, or a loved one, or someone who wants to educate others at work or at church, please let them know that I’ve made my books and DVDs *FREE* on my website. Even kids in Cambodia can learn that it wasn’t fertilizer that made them gay. It’s about genes and gestation, and the great luck of the draw.

– Brian McNaught


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